Gaming Nomad Reviews The Video Game Reviewers: The Top Six YouTube Gaming Authorities
Reviewing video games and reporting gaming has become a major part of journalism over the past couple decades and, with the advent of sites like YouTube, it has become much easier for the average gamer to get their own opinions out there on games that they either love or hate.
With gaming being the big market it has become I’ve found it more and more difficult to trust big name gaming sites to give honest game reviews. *cough* IGN *cough*. So I’ve come to find myself relying more on ‘amateur’ game reviewers that are often found on YouTube.
In fact, many of these game reviews directly inspired me in wanting to become one, so I thought I’d throw together a list six game reviewers who I’ve personally found to be the most helpful, entertaining, and trustworthy. They inspired me to take on the Gaming Nomad title.
To be clear, I’m not putting them over one another, saying so-and-so better than that so-and-so. I think they’re all great in their own ways, the best in what they specialize in. I look up to all of them as an inspiration in what game reviewers and reviewing should be.
The Angry Video Game Nerd
Arguably the first amateur game reviewer and definitively the one who spawned hundreds of online reviewers who feel the need to be hostile towards old NES games. AVGN was the first reviewer that I started watching. I’ve seen just about every episode of the Nerd repeatedly and they never get old for me. What I find funny is that some people don’t realize that the Nerd is just a character, not an actual person. James Rolfe, the creator of AVGN and the host site Cinemassacre, originally made the nerd as a simple joke video in 2004 reviewing Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and followed by another where he reviewed the horror that was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the NES. These two videos were surprisingly popular with his fans and it ultimately led to him create the now 100+ episode series and an independent movie.
His foul mouthed and over critical sense of humor is a charm that many have tried to emulate and many have failed.
While his angry rants and frustration playing through crappy old LJN games are fun to watch, my favorite episodes have always been when he takes honest looks at consoles, game franchises, and other historical game oddities that are otherwise generally forgotten by gamers today. I didn’t even know about the existence of the Turbografx 16 or the Neo-Geo console until watching his videos. The theme song to his show is one of the lewdest but catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. While James rarely touches on new games and is primarily comedy, I have learned quite a bit on game reviewing from his videos. I look forward to more from AVGN and Cinemassacre.
I didn’t really find out about JonTron till Game Grumps became a thing. After he left the show, I checked out his original stuff and this guy is hilarious. Jon Jafari has some of the funniest and well-produced game review material out there.
Jon is also the only game reviewer I know who has an android bird as a sidekick.
While he doesn’t have as many videos as other reviewers and tends to have a hard time meeting deadlines (we all know what that is like), the majority of what he has put out is high-quality. My favorite episode is when he covers the long-awaited and botched sequel Banjo and Kazooie – Nuts and Bolts, where Jon shows us all that is wrong with it and the great history that Rareware once had. JonTron is also one of the co-creators of NormalBoots.com and has new episodes featured on that site along with some other great game reviewers.
Pat the NES Punk
I first learned about Pat from a crossover episode he did with the Angry Video Game Nerd. I checked out his channel to find a very informative and amusing video about the TurboGrafx 16, a console that was a complete unknown to me as a kid, so I was interested in learning about it. Using his own Christmas experience with the system, Pat gave a great overview of the pros, cons, and missed opportunities of the system. From there I checked out his many reviews from his extensive video game collection most of which, as his name implies, are from the NES.
Pat gives very in-depth and helpful reviews to well-known and obscure NES games, as well as showing off some long forgotten Nintendo equipment from the past. He has a quirky and awkward sense of humor driven by his obsession with collecting everything NES related–which I’m sure is just part of the joke of his character. I hope…. He’s also very thrifty at the flea market, shown in his series called Flea Market Madness which makes me realize that I need to hit my local flea market more. Check out some of his videos on his youtube channel and his site; The Punk Effect.
A former member of ScrewAttack.com, Jared Knabenbauer is a hard-nosed reviewer that reviews both old and current gen games. Jared is very concise and can be very tough on the games he reviews, but is very fair.
I can’t say I always agree with all of Jared’s reviews but his videos are enjoyable to watch if you’re looking for informative coverage of a game and he can be really funny at times.
His Hydlide videos are my favorite set of his videos to watch as well as his list of top Bees in video games. That’s a new one. From full reviews, his One Minute Reviews, lists, and rants, I find ProJared to be one of the most reliable and honest game reviewers out there. He’s also got one fine head of hair. He recently joined onto Normal-Boots.com so check him out there as well as his youtube channel.
The Happy Video Game Nerd
What started out as a very obvious and self-aware parody of the Angry Video Game Nerd, Derek Alexander went against the popular trend of angrily reviewing old bad games and instead reviewed hidden gems from the past.
Through HVGN, I’ve learned about many great games I either never heard of or just vaguely knew about while growing up.
Possibly one of his greatest videos is his Earthbound video (one of my favorite games ever), which was like a mini-documentary on the history of the Mother series and RPGs from the late 80’s and early 90’s. If you have time, I highly suggest watching it. Derek also does a sub-series called ‘Is It Really That Bad?’ where he plays well-known bad games to see if they are really as bad as the mainstream critics say they are.
He is also an avid music lover and will always point out games with amazing soundtracks. He is also one half of the snyth music group Starship Amazing. While Derek has moved away from reviews to a degree, focusing more on streamed lets plays and podcasts, he is one of the most informative and helpful reviewers out there in the retro market. He also gets props for being a big Megaman fan like me.
‘Angry’ Joe Vargas is to me one of the most trusted and honest reviewers for current games on the internet. Despite his handle, Joe is only angry at a game (or game company) when it truly deserves it. If it’s truly a good game, he is very enthusiastic to go into great detail as to why the game is great, why you should play it and why you should buy it. On the flip side, he will always go into great detail and be brutally honest about bad games and why you shouldn’t buy them. He is also quick to point out questionable and crooked business practices that have flooded mainstream gaming over the past few years.
Countless times Joe’s pointed out overpriced DLC, poor online support, micro-transactions, and other ways major gaming companies try to get more money out of you that isn’t worth it.
Some of his reviews have played a big part in me deciding on some of the games I was on the fence about or had not considered playing at all. Joe pours his heart and soul into all his reviews, interviews, rants, and other videos and will always be honest to his viewers. Unfortunately, Angry Joe has been one of the hardest hit with the content ID changes on YouTube. He has been hit with over 60 claims on his videos and while he has managed to get down to around 24 (possibly less now) but this has greatly interrupted his productions and could even threaten his livelihood if changes to this flawed system Youtube has implemented is not checked.
Please give support to all these guys by checking out their channels and home sites. Because of these guys, I’ve found motivation, inspiration, and good ethics to follow when reviewing games. I know reviewing anything, be it games or movies or whatever, is all about opinions. We all have them, but being honest and backing up your opinion is the most important thing in reviewing anything, and these guys have taught me great ways to do that.
I know there are many more reviewers out there that I have seen but I didn’t list them either because they didn’t influence me enough or I just haven’t seen enough of their content. If you know any great game reviewers I should check out, feel free to list them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for some more articles coming up like a review of Batman Blackgate and the start of my sub-series: Anime Corner as well as some other reviews and other articles from our other game reviewers on Candid Slice.